Most businesses would be foolish not to take a look at government contracting as a potential source of revenue. The U.S. federal government spends more than $500 billion per year buying goods and services from outside vendors. Because the government doesn’t produce any products on its own, it turns to the private sector to obtain everything from staplers to multi-million-dollar machinery.
One of the first steps for someone interested in doing business with the federal government is to register as a contractor through ww.uscontractorregistration.com. You’ll be required to provide a DUNS number, a unique identifier assigned to each government contractor. Contact Dun and Bradstreet to receive a DUNS number. Even if you’ve registered in the past, you may need to transfer your information into the new System for Award Management, or SAM, which is replacing older registration systems.
Think you need to be a major corporation in order to do business with the government? That’s not the case. In fact, the federal government is required to set aside nearly a quarter of all contract spending for small businesses.
But if you’re new to federal contracting, becoming established as a reliable vendor whom the government turns to again and again can be a challenge. This may be even more of an issue in recent times, as government makes deep budget cuts and contractors face increased competition. One solution is to work as a sub-contractor to another business that is the primary contractor. Primary contractors are required to subcontract a certain amount of the work to businesses considered “disadvantaged,” which may include small businesses or those owned by women, minorities or veterans.
Becoming a contractor to the U.S. military poses additional challenges. Obtaining a security clearance and demonstrating a track record of maintaining confidentiality may be required. Again, subcontracting is a good way to get started in defense contracting.
Once a contract is awarded, there are numerous details to pay attention to. Contractors need to be mindful of MIL-STD-130, a standard that includes specific labeling requirements for military equipment. Unique Identification, or UID, is a method in which a 2-D data matrix symbol is applied to each piece of equipment to give it a unique identifier. A good source of information on this methodology is id-integration.com. As an additional step, UID verification is used to ensure that the Data Matrix symbol can be reliably read by automated readers. Learn more about verification at ID-Integration.com. UID verification should not be an afterthought; it may be wise to consult an experienced UID integrator — someone who knows how to incorporate UID verification into a particular production system. ID-integration.com contains a wealth of useful information on all the UID requirements.
Thomas Henderson is an applications engineer involved in MIL-STD-130 applications. His experience makes him a wonderful candidate to share helpful information about the challenges involved in item unique identification.
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